Braun

TFG 1 Permanent (acrylic)

Reinhold Weiss

1968

Braun TFG 1 Permanent (acrylic)

This extraordinary display of inner workings defies all norms of table lighter design. In fact, it inverts them. Weiss' design is all about the presentation of the supposedly unsightly bits and pieces usually concealed within oversized pieces of tabletop jewellery. But here the complex of springs, levers, tank and magnetic coil are on show like the parts of an anatomical model. And yet, for all the mechanical self-evidence,  a column of flame appearing from this mass of interconnections is nevertheless startling.

It carries a curiously spiritual implication. The name 'permanent' refers to the device's sparking mechanism. Braun engineers had developed an ignition system that for the first time dispensed with the need for batteries. Hence the claim in the instructions that the permanent is 'endowed with almost infinite life'. The 'permanence of the soul', perhaps. It is this unexpected conjunction of mechanism and the particular immateriality of fire that makes the TFG 1 such a fascinating example of early Braun utopianism, one that suggests a certain,  somewhat less than rational affinity with the techno-mystical tendencies of Russian constructivism. 

The use of transparent casings might be considered a minor functionalist strategy, one also pursued by Rams and Greubel in their Lectron System designs of the year earlier. Editions of Rams' phase one alarm - another preeminently mechanical device, all the more so for its space age styling - and T 2 table lighter were also later issued with transparent casings, as were Lubs' domo fix, flex and set wall clocks. At around the same time that this 'transparent' strand was developed a countervailing tend towards opacity also appeared. Particularly in the sphere of audio design 1968 saw the introduction of inscrutably dense devises, black but for a couple of instructive touches of colour, as in the case of the PS 500. From this year paint finish on the body of audio separates was switched from light grey to structured anthracite, shifting attention away from the object quality of the device and onto the controls. Design was to render operation comprehensible, not the device self-evident in all its aspects. Of course, there was an element of subterfuge in this. The technology was no less comprehensible than it had ever been. 

see also:

TFG 1 permanent acrylic  with presentation case

TFG 1 permanent gold-plated

condition: Museum quality. Unusually complete with full set of guarantees, instruction, box and packing.

price: on application